So it’s back to school which means it’s back to our busy schedules — cramming work, school and exercise into each of our hectic days. The truth is, many people slack when it comes to healthy eating as this time of year rolls around by taking shortcuts while cooking because they simply cannot find the time to do it. However, with a little extra planning, those weeknights can be made easier through mastering the art of meal prepping!
Meal prepping 101
Meal prepping may come across intimidating to most people — the thought of cooking for an entire week at one time can seem daunting. However, with proper planning and execution, you will find yourself with a ton of extra time on those busy weeknights without the stress of having to whip up meals off the top of your head!
First thing is first, make a list! Avoid the grocery store chaos along with the overwhelming aspect of shopping for a weeks worth of food by making a shopping list before getting there. Once you come up with an organized lineup of your meals that you will be eating for the week, you can further break it down by the ingredients that you will be needing for each meal. Be sure to include breakfast, lunch, dinner, along with snacks, and keep it as organized as possible. This will not only help save you time when you get to the grocery store, but also keep you from making pit stops in the candy aisle.
Tips to Successfully Meal Prep
Organization is definitely crucial to get you started however, it won’t be the only thing that keeps your meal prep going. Adapting a healthy and clean lifestyle takes time, hard work and a lot of dedication to be successful. The key to getting into a regimen that sticks is to make it as easy as possible for you to manage and continue in the longterm. So let’s dive into the tips and tricks of meal planning to help you successfully save time, money, all while eating clean and avoiding those frenzied weeknights.
Don’t Do it all at Once
If you are a beginner when it comes to preparing your meals, start by cooking for a few days at a time, instead of the entire week. This will lessen your load when it comes down to cooking on that Sunday night. Not only that, but you won’t have to worry about eating the exact same thing for lunch all week — which can be a drag! Be sure to have a variety. Even if you stick with the same protein through the week, modifying side dishes or sprucing up salads is an easy way to keep it interesting while satisfying your taste buds. Another great yet simple tip is to plan snacks with minimal ingredients, while incorporating raw fruits, veggies or nuts. This way, you can constantly change up your repertoire without overcomplicating it.
Pick your Foods Wisely
Try to stick to staple food items, this will simplify your cooking when it comes to preparation and limit the time you spend in the kitchen. Not only will you save time, but you will most likely save some money when buying simple, yet fresh produce rather than specialty items. Going the gourmet route may be tempting for the taste however, the more extravagant the food is, the sooner it will spoil and stink up your fridge!
Choose the Right Packaging
The containers you package your meals in should not be overlooked, especially when it comes to the size. Be sure your containers are not too big — this will likely lead to packing larger portion sizes and result in over eating. Since you will be using them throughout the week, it’s better to invest a higher quality, BPA-free packaging to be sure they won’t be falling apart through the constant heating and cooling or pose any health problems.
Remember that meal prepping is meant to help you throughout your week by lightening your load of things to do on weeknights when work and school become stressful. This will not only give you more time to do things you love but also the opportunity to workout and stay active! When done right, meal preparation will declutter your busy weeks and keep you on the right track for clean eating.